Total Pro Football Review
Total Pro Football (TPF) is not for every sports fan. It is for the hardcore sim fan who appreciates complete control over all aspects of running a pro football franchise – the kind of player who takes more pride in fielding a powerful team and creating a strong gameplan than in taking part in the on-field action. If you could care less about the financial side of football and want more action than watching a scrolling text play-by-play of a game, then you may as well stop reading now because TPF will bore you to tears. If you relish the thought of going toe-to-toe with sports agents in contract structuring and negotiation and think that rotisserie football is for wimps, then PSF just may be your dream game.
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of hardcore sports sims is screen after screen of text wrapped in a nearly incomprehensible menu system. Fortunately that is not the case with TPF as it manages to wrap its numbers crunching engine in a bright and easy to manage interface. TPF breaks the season and its management down into a series of phases such as the draft, free agent signings, and preseason. At the start of each phase you can check your onscreen “PDA” for a list of tasks that need to be completed in the current phase. This PDA is also used to relay in-game messages and notifications such as that big free agent accepting your latest offer to you in the form of email messages. So throughout one of the game’s phases you can refer back to your PDA to determine what you should be doing next and to see the results of what you last did. It works quite well as a way to walk you through the major events of a pro football team’s offseason; so well that you can make your way through the phases without having to break down and consult the manual.
However, this ease of use belies the depth of control you have over your team in each of these phases. Let’s look at the pursuit of a free agent as an example. When evaluating a player and the contribution that he can make to your team you not only can view his career statistics and ratings in a number of position-related categories, but also examine character traits such as work ethic and his overall morale and enthusiasm. Once you’ve set your sights on a player, you then have to deal with his agent. Agents are also rated in a number of categories that affect their approach to negotiations, and the game will also track your past encounters with the agent. Yes, they will even hold a grudge against you if you’re not careful. When working with an agent you need to structure the player’s contract down to the dollar figure for each year of the contract, signing and performance bonuses, and even commitments to play or start the player … and you need to do all of this while managing your salary cap. Luckily if you particularly loathe free agent negotiations or any other aspect of running a team, you can let the computer take care of it for you and move on to the next phase.